Excerpt: HOW TO MARS by David Ebenbach (Tachyon)

EbenbachD-HowToMarsHopefully, you caught my interview with David Ebenbach yesterday. (If not, go check that out!) Today, Tachyon Publications has provided CR with an excerpt from David’s new novel, How to Mars. Due out later this month, here’s the synopsis:

What happens when your dream mission to Mars is a reality television nightmare? This debut science-fiction romp with heart follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a hint of The Real World.

For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars — in exchange for a lifetime of research — was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth.

But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.

Now, on with the Excerpt!

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Interview with DAVID EBENBACH

EbenbachD-AuthorPic(creditJoeKing)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is David Ebenbach?

Hi! Nice to meet you. Well, I’m a writer, which in my case is rooted in a blend of curiosity and introversion. I’m deeply, fundamentally, persistently curious about the human experience — what we feel, what we do, why we do what we do, and how we feel about doing it. At the same time, my favorite place to be, quarantine or not, is at home with just my family (and sometimes all alone at my desk). So that’s where writing comes in — digging into the human experience without, you know, getting overwhelmed by being around humans all the time. If you see what I mean.

And, as you’ll notice in most of my answers in this interview, I’m also a big “on the one hand… but on the other hand” person. Life is complicated!

Your new novel, How to Mars, is due to be published by Tachyon. It looks really fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

On one level, How to Mars is the story of six people who, for a variety of personal reasons, volunteered to go on a dubious one-way mission to Mars. It’s dubious because it’s funded by a reality show that’s being made about the mission and it’s run by a really eccentric organization. The organization has left them with a lot of odd advice and guidance and one ironclad rule: NO SEX ON MARS. Well, of course a couple of the Marsonauts ignore that rule, and now there’s the first-ever pregnancy on another planet. That would be dangerous enough in the hostile environment of Mars, but there are also hints of an alien presence, and the engineer with the somewhat violent streak is starting to behave pretty erratically. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE ESCAPEMENT by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)

Tidhar-EscapementUSsmThe cover for Lavie Tidhar‘s upcoming new novel The Escapement made its way online today, and quite the stunner it is, too. Due to be published by Tachyon Publications in October, it is pitched as a “dazzling new novel evoking Westerns, surrealism, epic fantasy, and circus extravaganzas… an evocative dreamscape of dark comedy, heartbreak, hope, and adventure,” that recalls The Gunslinger and The Phantom Tollbooth. Which all makes for an intriguing mix, indeed. Here’s the synopsis:

Into the reality called the Escapement rides the Stranger, a lone gunman on a quest to rescue his son. But it is too easy to get lost on a shifting landscape full of dangerous versions of favorite things: lawless cowboys, giants made of stone, oppressed clowns, and even more sinister forces at play.

The Stranger always finds new enemies in every godforsaken town. He reluctantly defends the not-always-helpless, while avoiding the deadly symbol storms of petulant gods. As the Stranger has learned, the Escapement is a dreamscape of deep mysteries, unpredictable geography, unlikely allies, and unwinnable battles.

But the flower the Stranger seeks still lies beyond the Mountains of Darkness. Time is running out, as he journeys deeper and deeper into the secret heart of an unknown world.

The Escapement is due to be published by Tachyon Publications in North America and in the UK, in October 2021.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Violent Century and By Force Alone

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Q&A with BRUCE STERLING

SterlingB-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Bruce Sterling?

Well, at the present moment, I’m some unshaven guy in his mid-sixties surviving a global pandemic in Ibiza while wearing house slippers, linen pajama pants and a poncho.

Your latest book, Robot Artists and Black Swans, will be published by Tachyon in March 2021. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It’s a literary conceptual-art piece. I was an American science fiction writer spending time in Italy, so I naturally thought, “I should write some science fiction about Italy!”

But then I surmised: “What kind of science fiction would I write if I myself was Italian?” Then, instead of me peering through a keyhole as a puzzled foreigner, it was like a vast door had opened up into the marbled streets. Continue reading

Interview with ELLY BANGS

BangsE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Elly Bangs?

I’m a Seattle-based science fiction and fantasy author. I’ve been writing stories and novels since I was a kid, but I only started seriously sending my work out into the world in 2017; around that time I was lucky enough to find a day job that lets me scrape by while still leaving me time to write. Since then I’ve had about a dozen stories out in publications including ClarkesworldBeneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. What else? I live with my partner and two cats. I treasure my friendship with my Clarion West class. I enjoy bicycling, tinkering with circuitry, and baking pies — though not at the same time. Continue reading

Interview with KIMBERLY UNGER

UngerK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Kimberly Unger?

Kimberly Unger is a gift box of contradictions topped with a big yellow bow. She grew up on the beaches of Southern California but is not a fan of avocados, she is deeply entrenched in games and technology but avoids wearing hoodies and conference giveaway t-shirts. She spent almost a decade working in high finance, twice as long in games and entertainment and has just made the jump to virtual reality. All of this has gone towards making her fairly well-rounded and has long-fed her desire to learn new things.

Your debut novel, Nucleation , will soon be published by Tachyon. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Operator Helena Vectorovich managed to botch humanity’s first contact with an alien species. She goes from a woman on top of her game to being sidelined by tragedy and, while fighting her way back to the top was within her scope, that tragedy opened a door for her and she stepped right through it. The book is a standalone, but there are plenty of other stories to tell about Helen so if there’s interest, I’ve got more in my pocket. Continue reading

Interview with JANE YOLEN

133576271Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Jane Yolen?

I have been in the book making business since my first book (non-fiction) came out in 1963. But I had been in publishing before that as an editor, magazine writer, and poet.

Tachyon are due to publish your latest story collection, The Midnight Circus, in October. How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Who knew Jane Yolen, the fairy-tale writer, author of the Commander Toad in Space books, and the How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight series, wrote dark fantasy and dark science fiction. Yet she had stories in World’s Best Horror several times over her long short story writing career. Not dark slasher fiction, but the frisson of terror, the haunt of oppression, the creak of a door where no door exists, kind of darkness. Continue reading

Interview with CARRIE VAUGHN

VaughnC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Carrie Vaughn?

Person, author, collector of hobbies, usually a traveler but that’s on hold for the moment.

Your new story collection, Kitty’s Mix Tape, is due to be published by Tachyon in October. It’s the final instalment in your Kitty Norville series: how would you introduce the series to a potential reader, and what can fans of the series expect from this book?

The series is about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. She has lots of adventures along the way. Kitty’s Mix Tape collects most of the short stories related to the series I wrote after about 2010 — plus four brand-new, never before seen stories. As usual with the Kitty-related short stories, they often feature the supporting cast, revealing their secret back stories, and including lots of other fun snippets and easter eggs that fans will enjoy. Continue reading

Interview with R. B. LEMBERG

LembergRB-AuthorPic (Bogi-Takács)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is R.B. Lemberg?

I am a queer, bigender immigrant writer, editor and academic originally from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel, now living in Kansas. My favorite genre is epic fantasy, but I write science fiction, magic realism, slipstream, and sometimes even horror. I also write poetry and non-fiction. I have a wide range, and I’m rarely bored!

Your debut novella, The Four Profound Weaves, is due to be published by Tachyon in September. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Four Profound Weaves is a novella that follows two transgender elders on a journey of identity and adventure — they must learn to weave from Death itself to defeat a tyrant who hoards the bones and souls of his victims. The book is a stand-alone, set in my Birdverse universe. I’ve been publishing in this world since 2011, but only short work so far. Each story set in Birdverse stands alone, but together they add up to something greater — a rich tapestry of many perspectives, stories, and lives. The Four Profound Weaves is the first Birdverse book in print — the rest of the published pieces are online. It’s a good gateway into the world — you do not need to know anything else. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan (Tachyon)

BrennanM-DriftwoodDriftwood might be the oddest novel I’ve written, and I say that as somebody whose previous novel is composed of diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings, and the footnoted translation of an ancient mythological epic.

Part of the reason for that oddness is the setting, which is composed of the still-decaying fragments of mostly-destroyed worlds. But part is that it didn’t start life as a novel: it’s what’s known as a “fix-up,” composed of short stories joined together to make a larger whole. (If you find yourself thinking, “huh, so the form of the book reflects the form of the setting,” give yourself a cookie: that’s why I decided to create a fix-up rather than writing a more conventional novel.) For this excerpt, I’ve decided to give you the opening two scenes of the first story in the book, which is also the first one I wrote.

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